ALAMEDA, Calif. — With the NFL’s trade deadline coming up at 1 p.m PT on Tuesday, the Raiders have at least one position they figure to address before they play the Lions on Sunday.
Linebacker is the most glaring area of need. “We’re going to probably be looking to shore up the linebacker position in the next 48 hours,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said.
The Raiders are already thin at linebacker with Marquel Lee on injured reserve with an ankle injury and Vontaze Burfict suspended for the rest of the season. And Monday Gruden revealed that linebacker Justin Phillips suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss to the Texans.
And while Gruden said there has not been a firm update on the condition of star center Rodney Hudson, who left Sunday’s loss to the Texans midway through the first quarter with an ankle injury, he does not anticipate the team making a move to shore up the offensive line.
That’s because of the quality depth on the offensive line and the surprisingly strong showing by undrafted free agent Andre James, who replaced Hudson at center on Sunday.
“He did a good job. Really pleased with his communication,” Gruden said.
As for Hudson, Gruden said, “the x-rays, I believe, are negative — which is a good sign. We don’t know the severity of the injury. We’re still looking into it.”
The Raiders have primarily been playing Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow at linebacker since Burfict’s suspension. In Sunday’s loss to Houston, Morrow and Whitehead both played 100 percent of the defensive snaps. Slot corner Lamarcus Joyner filled the other traditional linebacker spot, playing 93 percent of the defensive snaps, as the Raiders used their nickel defensive package for the vast majority of the game to combat the Texans’ three wide-receiver sets.
Phillips was primarily a special teams player, on the field for 70 percent of that unit’s snaps on Sunday.
Gruden mentioned linebacker Dakota Allen as a candidate to replace Phillips. The Raiders signed Allen from the Rams’ practice squad in late September, and he’s played 20 special-teams snaps. But he was inactive on Sunday against the Texans.
Lee could also add depth to the position by returning from injured reserve. But he’s not eligible to come off the list for another month.
So whether it’s through free agency or trade, Gruden said to expect the Raiders to bring in another linebacker in the coming days.
As for any other adds at the deadline, Gruden said the Raiders are listening to potential offers. But the organization also knows it’s not simple, with Gruden saying the Raiders are approaching the deadline “realistically.”
“You don’t just turn on the NFL Network and listen to all the rumors and believe they’re all possibly achievable,” Gruden said. “We’re listening to the phone, and we’re making calls, and we’re seeing who’s really available and what the price tag is.”
That price tag includes whatever the player is owed on his contract — not just what the Raiders would give up to acquire him.
“Sometimes, that’s a decision that’s tough to weigh,” Gruden said.
Still, the Raiders have been active on the market, as Gruden pointed out, acquiring wide receivers Trevor Davis and Zay Jones in separate deals, before shipping cornerback Gareon Conley to Houston.
“We have been pretty active compared to other teams,” Gruden said.